What’s your background in the trade?
My first introduction was my appointment as a business consultant to the ACT in 1993. I worked with Anne Killick and David Wilshire for about five years, reviewing member benefits, looking at ways to increase members and other ways the ACT could help dealers. I identified early on that sales training was non-existent in the trade and the ACT asked me to look into this and try a few pilot projects. I had been a consultant and trainer for about ten years before. I was not to know that some 450 stores, six major suppliers and manufacturers and 15 years later, I would still be at it! It has been a privilege to work in this industry.
What has been the response to your sales training tour?
It’s early days but so far, response has been great with three sessions booked in Lowestoft, Crystal Palace and Edinburgh and calls from three more areas we are working on. The idea is to bring sales training to any shop in the country regardless of their size, at an affordable cost. It is making the training available at various locations around the UK so any individual who wants to progress can book a place or any shop with new starters or sales people showing promise can give their sales skills a boost. There are three levels of training on offer as well as management courses and owner workshops.
If there is no course near you, we’ll put one on as close as possible and approach other non- competitive cycle shops in case they want to send delegates. Previously I have done in-store courses in Arbroath, Dublin, Belfast, Truro, Torquay, the Midlands, Newcastle and all over the UK. I am still giving training sessions to teams in store when required. This course has been really effective and I’m also writing bespoke sessions for multiple retailers who have special needs. This new project we launched in February is designed to bring courses to anyone who has maybe just one or two people they want to train.
And you’ve cut the training costs?
Yes. To work, it has to be affordable. We figure it has to be worth £99 of anyone’s budget to send a delegate for a professional training session that claims to double sales. Working on what people tell me, increased understanding of shop profitability coupled with explaining simple but effective, modern sales techniques and creating a follow up plan has to have an impact on sales levels and a huge effect in confidence and enthusiasm. The younger members really benefit.
Any final points?
Training is not expenditure, it’s investment as you get the costs back from increased sales and profitability. Now we have brought the costs down within reach of any business, I can only hope the industry grasps the opportunity to develop their staff. There is no better investment. I hope this means that when someone new starts a sales job, the owner will use the website, look up where a course is running and book them on. If no course is scheduled, we’ll put one on for you.